- Cycle Day #59 Ottawa to Gatineau. 30 kms
We followed Ottawa’s extensive bike path system right across the bridge into Gatineau, Quebec.
No welcome sign at the border into Quebec, but an impressive statue of Rocket Richard – very Canadian.
Not long into our Quebecois experience, I heard the distinctive clang of a piece of metal being kicked out from under my back tire. The consequences were swift. I immediately and instinctively searched for the Backroads support van to give me M&M’s while they replaced the tire. Fortunately, Gear Guy put on his cape and plugged the hole with a tire plug. And then 4 more. The size of the hole resulted in all the tire sealant goo squirting and spraying out when the tire was pumped up. Gear Guy instructed me to hold my finger on it, while he googled a temporary solution, looking a little like Basil on Faulty Towers.
We limped to the second nearest motel (we were warned away from the first one as a place of prostitution), and got out of the 41 degree humidex heat. While checking into our 1.5 star motel, I felt inspired to practise my French as so far the only words that have come out of my mouth are “Si” and “Gracias”. I took some time to practice my lines so they were flawless: “I was born in Quebec, but have lived out west for over 45 years, so my French is…” here I hesitated only for a second to make sure I had the correct pronounciation of “poor”, and the hotel clerk who previously couldn’t speak a word of English, jumped in and said in English, “Your French is gone.”
- Cycle Day #60 Gatineau to Hudson 147 kms
With the tire still holding air in the morning Gear Guy was running around like Superman. It would have been less painful if the plugs had not held. Next was Gear Guy’s redundant and annoying instruction to “Try not to go over any bumps so the plugs don’t wiggle loose” and then his glaring looks every time he heard me go over a pebble or twig, led to a lengthy, animated dialogue.
We had the option of following the Route Verte along a peninsula for a few kilometers and decided that despite it being longer and gravel, we should do that. We were quickly stopped by an attentive park warden who told us we need a pass to enter the National Park (which is what Quebec calls their provincial parks – don’t get me going). We asked how much it was, and she clearly stated in English $7.15. Well for that, we might as well continue and pay up. So we handed over $20.15. “Non Non. FIFTEEN” she repeated to our simple anglophone ears, and she took 50 cents as Jay held out his change out like a kid with paper route pennies. She then gave us $3 change. “I thought it was $7?” “Non Non. SEVENTEEN.” Not wanting to reverse the transaction, we left uncertain whether we had just been conned. We cycled slowly on the 1.5 kilometres to get our money’s worth (and to avoid the pebbles and twigs on a gravel path took me longer.)
My sister and brother-in-law were patiently waiting for us in Montreal, and they saved the day by finding the exact replacement tire for my bike. Apparently a Montreal bike shop happened to have “Just one of these tires, because no one ever asks for them.” Perfect, we need just one. However, while I dodged more rocks and ruts, there was time for more animated dialogue on why Gear Guy would choose tires that no one apparently stocks.
It was awesome to have Heather and Terry surprise us on the road, just west of Oka, bringing ice water!
Cycling through the Marijuana Mecca that is Oka there is an unmistakable powerful fragrance, so crossing the ferry to Hudson (yes, I counted the 2km on the ferry in my 147 kms day count) and checking into the well known and spectacular Willow Inn, we seemed to have a little buzz high going.
- Cycle Day #61 Hudson to Montreal 34 kms
Followed Route Verte onto the island of Montreal and made mandatory stop for cake and coffee in Ste Anne de Bellevue, one of the oldest and most quaint parts of Montreal. We couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a lively conversation beside us. All four people randomly and repeatedly flipping mid sentence from English to French to English to French – no hesitation, no accent, nothing. Despite my continued attempts at using my poor French, everyone we have spoken with so far has flipped to English to spare listening to me.
The manager was intrigued by our ride and as we were leaving came out on the street to shake our hands and wish us a “Bon Voyage”. “Gracias” I replied.
Spent a day with Heather and Terry, where they fed us, dined us, washed our stinky clothes, (you know the usual routine), and toured us around their hometown.
Got the bike tire changed and bought a significant supply of relationship saving tire plugs.
Terry is a rabid Pete Seeger fan. You should watch Pete Seeger – The Power of Song. Long before it was popular to do so, Pete persuasively and peacefully protested many causes including human rights and environmental concerns. The movie is moving, inspirational, surprising and entertaining. That put us in the mood for more cycling down the Route Verte – Turn, Turn, Turn……